Castor oil may be trending on TikTok, but this ingredient has been used in hair care for thousands of years. With roots in Ayurveda, castor oil is an age-old herbal remedy that’s said to boost shine, reduce breakage and promote healthy hair growth.
Traditionally used for hair oiling, nowadays castor oil, like argan oil and coconut oil, can be found in countless hair care products, including hair masks, conditioners, treatments and even eyelash serums. In fact, castor oil is one of the main ingredients in many of our go-to eyelash serums that, as you probably already know, deliver next-level results.
But what exactly is castor oil and how is it going to help your locks? We’ve enlisted the help of celebrity hair stylist Jason Collier and Nancy Twine, founder of haircare brand Briogeo, to reveal everything you need to know about the wonder ingredient…
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What is castor oil?
Castor oil is a vegetable oil that’s pale yellow in colour with a distinctive taste and odour. It’s extracted from the seeds of the castor plant. “Originally from Africa, but also found in Jamaica, castor oil is acquired by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant, or Ricinus,” explains Jason.
Dubbed the ‘miracle oil’, it is comprised of 18 fatty acids that provide essential nutrients to the hair follicles. It also boasts anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. “This is why castor oil is a popular addition to hair masks, treatments and serums,” adds Jason.
Does castor oil stimulate hair growth?
There’s currently little research to show that castor oil can stimulate hair growth. However, it still has several hair benefits. “Castor oil is rich in vitamin E and a monounsaturated fat called ricinoleic acid — a fat that acts as a humectant; retaining moisture by preventing water loss through the skin. The benefits include healing, moisturising and promoting hair fullness,” says Nancy.
By healing and moisturising the scalp, castor oil can help to create an optimum environment for healthy hair growth. And while the research is limited, there’s lots of anecdotal evidence to suggest that castor oil is a great natural remedy for a happier scalp and healthier hair.
“Ricinoleic acid also acts as an inhibitor of prostaglandin D2 synthase which is believed to be the cause of androgenetic alopecia,” notes Leading Trichologist, Dr Nick Fisherman.
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Please remember that as with any anecdotally sound proof natural remedies, castor oil will react differently to different scalps. If you’re working towards serious hair growth goals, consider consulting a trichologist.
Does castor oil prevent dandruff?
“Ricinoleic acid is known for its anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Jason. And as dandruff can occur due to the growth of fungus (called Malassezia), castor oil may help to prevent dandruff.
It goes without saying that there are several factors that can contribute to dandruff. We would always advise seeking the advice of a health professional or trichologist who will be able to offer proper diagnosis and treatment plans.
What hair types can use castor oil?
Castor oil does not discriminate and it can be used on all hair types. That includes, all hair types across the curl scale, 1a-4c, i.e straight, to curly to coily. It is, however, most beneficial for those with dry and damaged hair as it can help strengthen the hair and moisturise the scalp, as well as those with thick hair with high porosity.
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